Investing in a new set of pots, pats or stainless steel mixing bowls is a bit like buying a new car. Of course, there's far less at stake and the price point is significantly lower, but doing your research can make all the difference.
If you haven't seen our blog on the hows and whys of choosing the right stainless steel kitchenware, start here. Then, it depends on what you need.
If you're looking for mixing bowls, find out why stainless is better than glass.
If you're in the market for new pots and pans or you wish to restore your current ones, keep reading. We included a ton of tips on how to prep your new stainless steel, cook with it, and maintain its pristine appearance.
Preparing New Stainless Steel Kitchenware
Much like you have to season a granite mortar and pestle before using it, stainless steel deserves similar attention. Preparing your pots and pans will help them last longer and maintain their flawless appearance. The following conditioning process will also make them non-stick.
To remove any manufacturing oils, wash your new pans with ¼ cup of vinegar and warm, soapy water. Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.
To condition, put 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in the pan. Using a disposable cloth, wipe the oil to cover the surface. Repeat this process every two to three months or when you notice food has begun to stick. To prolong the effect of conditioning, avoid using non-stick sprays -- you won't need them anyway!
Note: we've included an alternative, somewhat similar method later on that works for new and used pans.
How To Cook With Stainless Steel
Use low to medium heat and always preheat the pan before adding food. To test the temperature, flick a bit of water onto the surface of the pan. If the water bubbles or evaporates, the temperature is too high. Instead, the water should slide along the pan.
We also recommend allowing frozen or very cold food to acclimate before adding it to prevent the pan from warping under the extreme temperature difference.
If you season your stainless steel pan to make it non stick, you may not need to use oil, unless flavor calls for it. Even with fresh meats, the juices that release during the heating process will prevent them from sticking.
Are Stainless Steel Pans Non Stick?
The short answer? No. But we like bending the rules, so we discovered a way to make our stainless steel pans non stick to get the best of both worlds. Employ the same method you'd use to season a cast iron pan.
Turn Your Stainless Steel Pan Into A Non-Stick Surface
- Heat the pan over medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Add a few tablespoons of a high smoke point oil, enough to coat the entire surface.
- When the oil begins to smoke, remove the pan from heat and allow the oil to cool completely.
- Safely dispose of the excess oil.
- Wipe the pan with a paper towel to remove remaining oil.
The glossy sheen left behind becomes your non-stick surface. It will remain non-stick as long as you avoid washing it with soap and water. Instead, wipe it clean with a damp cloth.
If that maxes out your yuck factor, then simply follow the above process between uses. It's more work, but it will keep your stainless steel pans looking brand-spanking new.
Now, enjoy frying eggs, cooking rice, and any other food that has the tendency to cling to the surface of your beautiful stainless steel pan.
The Right Utensils For Stainless Steel Cookware
While aesthetic value may have you opting for shiny stainless steel cooking utensils to match your pan, we don't recommend it. Metal can scratch metal, and once you've unintentionally scarred the surface of your new pan, there's no repairing it.
Your best bet for cooking utensils, including spatulas, whisks, spoons, ladles, and tongs are either wood, plastic, or silicone. If you're stuck on which material is safest, high-quality food grade silicone is ideal. Wood can crack, warp, and absorb moisture, and plastic often contains harmful chemicals that may leach into food under high temperatures. Silicone, on the other hand, keeps its shape, cleans easily, is food safe, and won't harbor bacteria.
How To Clean Discolored Stainless Steel Pots
Maintaining clean stainless steel cookware preserves their aesthetic sheen and prevents discoloration and build up. But what if you're reading this too late and your existing stainless steel cookware is already tarnished?
A few different methods will help you tackle this problem. A simple solution is to wash your pans with vinegar and rinse with water. This will remove discoloration. For a deeper clean to rid your pan of any calcium build-up, mix a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water and boil it in the stained pan. Allow the mixture to cool, then discard it and wash the pan as normal.
Baking soda also works wonders here. Cover the bottom of the pan with baking soda and add about ⅓ cup of water, more or less depending on the size of your pan. Then use a non-abrasive tool, such as a nylon brush or a cloth and scrub the bottom and edges of the pan. This should create a paste, which you can allow to sit for a few minutes. Then wipe it clean and rinse with hot water.
Keep The Love Alive...
To maintain a smooth and shiny surface to avoid extra grunt work later on, we recommend washing your stainless steel pans soon after use. If this isn't manageable, then just fill the pot or pan with hot water immediately after use and allow it to soak until you have the time to clean it (without waiting too long). This will prevent any food from sticking to its surface and leaving behind stains.
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From our kitchen to yours, happy cooking!